Too Far Away to Touch (1995), thoughtfully written by Lesléa Newman and movingly illustrated by Catherine Stock, follows a young girl as she processes her beloved uncle’s AIDS-related illness.
The child, Zoe, loves her uncle, Leonard, who takes her on adventures in New York City when he visits her. On one visit Zoe plans to tease him by pretending she’s found his lost marbles in his thick head of hair. Things don’t go quite as planned because he’s wearing a beret when he arrives, so Zoe saves the trick for later. Continue reading
Lucy Goes to the Country (1998), written by Joseph Kennedy and illustrated by John Canemaker, is an Alyson Wonderland publication told from the point-of-view of a well-loved cat with gay pet-parents. Lucy spends most of her time with her “Big Guys” at an apartment in the city. But Lucy is lucky on multiple accounts. Her Big Guys work at home so she’s never lonely, and every weekend the family goes to the country. Continue reading
Written by Lois Gould and first published by Ms. in 1972, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, was republished in 1978 by Daughters Publishing Company with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. The short story that became a picture book challenges the idea that gender is a natural expression clearly connected to the sexed body. Instead, it suggests that gender is a learned behavior that restricts freedom. Continue reading
Jesse’s Dream Skirt (1979) is a Lollipop Power, Inc. publication written by Bruce Mack and illustrated by Marian Buchanan. The opening image depicts a semi-circle of ethnically diverse men in traditional cultural attire framing a young boy wrapped in a sheet. The text reads: “There are and were and always will be boys who wear dresses and skirts and things that whirl, twirl, flow and glow.”
Image and text position the young boy, Jesse, as part of a long line of boys and men who wear dresses and skirts. Although not a very enlightened approach to history or genealogy, the awkward first impression shouldn’t detract from the rest of this very good picture book.
The Daddy Machine (1992), written by Johnny Valentine and illustrated by Lynette Schmidt was an early Alyson Wonderland publication.
Two children who live with their moms begin to wonder what it would be like to have a dad. When their moms leave them home alone with a construction kit, they decide to build a daddy machine! The siblings successfully build the machine, but there is a major design flaw — no off switch. After 60+ dads appear, one of the children thinks to pull the plug and dads stop popping out. One of the dads is good with machines and can reverse the process, so most of the dads step back into it and disappear. However, two decide they want to stay and they rent the house next store. Continue reading
Written by Jane Severance and illustrated by Tea Schook, When Megan Went Away (1979), is the first book about lesbian moms published in the US. It was published by Lollipop Power, Inc., a small feminist press deeply invested in producing children’s picture books that challenged gender stereotypes as well as the absence of lesbian and gay representation in children’s culture. Continue reading
The Generous Jefferson Bartleby Jones (1991) is a delightfully quirky children’s picture book, written by Forman Brown and illustrated by Leslie Trawin. Outrageous rhymes and illustrations work together to communicate the story of Jefferson Bartleby Jones who has an unfortunately lengthy name but a fabulous family. He spends three days of the week living with his dads, and the remaining four days with his mom. Continue reading